These performances of two popular operas, Madama Butterfly and La Traviata, used the same basic ingredients, up-and-coming young singers and productions which were eye-catching, sometimes to the point of distraction, but with very different musical results.

Something of the spirit of Verdi's romantic opera was captured, especially by soprano Maria Tonina as Violetta, who looked splendid and sang with passion and Verdian style.

Here was a young artist trying to get under the skin of the Parisian courtesan, rather than being content to appear elegant in masses of tulle and sequins.

Puccini, sadly, had no such eloquent advocate. There was plenty to look at in this production of Madama Butterfly but that could not disguise its musical shortcomings.

The set looked like the creation of a television gardening make-over show where the chosen theme was Japanese kitsch.

There was barely an inch left to move on the theatre's relatively small stage, crowded with a garden centre's worth of potted plants, shrubs and creepers.

The women's chorus was even more colourful than the flora with impressively authentic costumes, and they had a nice line in synchronized fan-waving and parasol twirling.

But when the Bonze arrived their consternation was expressed by shuffling around in a very tight circle there was no space to do anything more.

The tenor, Andriy Perfilov, certainly looks every inch the swaggering sexual predator, Pinkerton, broad shouldered and elegant in his white naval uniform, despite the anachronistic ponytail.

He has a strong but unwieldy voice, with something of a wobble when pushed, and not always accurately pitched.

He and Elena Dee's Cio Cio San make a handsome couple in their love duet and the Korean soprano's transformation from submissive girl to betrayed lover and mother, was convincing and her scenes with Suzuki, warm-toned Zarui Vardanean, worked well. Dee's voice is pleasant but her singing eventually palled since it was never varied, shaded or coloured.

Her modest lyric soprano would normally have been over-whelmed by Puccini's orchestration but not as performed in the sluggish, somnolent and underpowered way it was here.

The only thing missing from Butterfly's garden was a water feature but that turned up in La Traviata - a fully working fountain in the middle of a table in Violetta's drawing room.

When she was left alone, pondering Alfredo's declaration of love, her meditative aria e strano! How strange! His words are burned upon my heart! was delivered to the accompaniment of what sounded like several men simultaneously using a porcelain urinal. Talk about distracting.

Even that could not undermine Tonina's spirited performance, varying her tone, and making a good job of Verdi's demanding coloratura. Whatever Ruslan Zinevych's technical shortcomings, he has a genuinely Italianate tenor voice, virile and sappy, and he made a convincing Alfredo.

As his father, Petru Racovita's powerful, occasionally stentorian baritone was used to good effect. Conductor Nicolae Dohataru roused the orchestra so that, even if not rhythmically crisp, the Brindisi had a galumphing energy, and the chorus was a hearty vocal presence.